Fine Feathers by Anna Scott
5th April 2019
If you happen to be hiking in the majestic Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia, and you suddenly hear the sound of a chainsaw, you might have been lucky enough to have stumbled across a lyrebird. The Superb Lyrebird, as well as sporting beautiful plumage, has a remarkable ability to mimic any sound it hears. It does so with such exactness, you honestly can’t tell whether the sound is genuine or not.
In her piece, Fine Feathers, from Inspirations #101, Anna Scott has chosen to recreate this Australian native bird in a delicate combination of stumpwork, needlelace and surface embroidery more because of his elegant appearance than his vocal cleverness.
Challenged at Beating Around the Bush in 2016 to design a piece with an Australian native animal, Anna wanted to avoid the usual koalas and kangaroos which everyone associates with Australia.
In Anna’s home town of Adelaide, there was a much-loved lyrebird named ‘Chook’ at the local zoo. Chook was famous for his ability to mimic the sound of construction work and became something of a YouTube star. You can still find his videos online and they really are worth looking up. Sadly, Chook passed away in 2011, but Anna has modelled this project on him, paying homage to one of the most popular past residents of the Adelaide Zoo.
This graceful lyrebird is made all the more lovely by the clever combination of textures and stitches, as well as the perfect blend of surface and raised elements.
His body feathers are formed by working a needlelace slip, a technique that has been used to create the raised elements in this type of embroidery for centuries. Although it may appear complicated, the effect is achieved by even lines of corded detached blanket stitch, resulting in a smooth, textured surface.
The exquisite tail plumage is shaped like a lyre and perfectly demonstrates how the lyrebird got its name. It is achieved by first working a white net of wheatear stitch to represent the fine, almost sheer central feathers, and then two bold curved slips filled with satin stitch and highlighted with metallic thread which make up the characteristic tail.
If you have never done stumpwork before, this project may be challenging but it is an incredibly satisfying one to try. As tempting as it might be to construct the project as you go, it is important to work all of the detached elements separately. Once you have completed all of the surface stitching, including the beads, you can then affix the raised elements and finally see your lyrebird come to life.
They say that imitation or mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, we say that by imitating this delightful creature in this project, we aren’t just honouring the designer and the embroidery tradition, but we’re honouring Chook and all of the amazing creatures of the natural world.
Make Your Own Fine Feathers
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Fine Feathers by Anna Scott is an enchanting stumpwork scene from an Australian rainforest featuring a lyrebird displaying his magnificent tail.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Fine Feathers includes everything you need to re-create this wonderful scene: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felt, beading wire, embroidery threads, beads, paillettes and needles.